Your Dog Ate a Sock. Is It Dangerous? What to Do Next

If your dog ate a sock, here's what happens to that sock and when you need to see the vet. Plus, not sure if your dog swallowed a sock? Here are some of the signs.
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Dogs are notorious for eating things they shouldn’t, and many of those things are not necessarily food. Dogs can chew and gulp down almost anything. So, if your dog ate a sock, you’re not alone — it’s a commonly swallowed item.

“Dogs seem to love cloth,” says Kelly Diehl, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, scientific communications advisor for the Morris Animal Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that funds animal health research. “I’ve pulled out a lot of socks and underwear. Amongst us gastroenterologists, people kick around the idea that sometimes dogs eat inappropriate materials because they have some kind of GI problem, whether that’s a food allergy or intolerance. I also think there’s a behavioral component to it, which we can’t really explain, but some dogs just seem to be sock eaters.”

A dog eating a sock.
What are your next steps to take if your dog ate a sock? Photography ©Barna Tanko | Thinkstock.

If your dog ate a sock, here’s what happens to that sock

Whether your dog ate a sock or some other item he has no business swallowing, several things might happen. If the dog is big and the item is small like a sock, the dog might simply vomit it back up — either right away or a day or two later. If that doesn’t happen, it’s possible that the dog might pass the sock and eventually poop it out. This could take several days, and you will want to take a close look every time your dog poops to check for the sock.

In some cases, if your dog ate a sock, the item might even become stuck in the stomach. “When the stomach empties, food will go first and indigestible objects go last,” Dr. Diehl explains. “Items can stay in a dog’s stomach and cause periodic problems. They got them down but they can’t throw them up, and they’re too big to go into the intestine, so they bounce around and cause some discomfort. These dogs usually become chronic vomiters.”

What if you’re not sure if your dog ate a sock?

Not sure if your dog ate a sock, or swallowed something else? Because some types of items are difficult to see on an x-ray, and because dogs sometimes swallow things without their owners realizing it, your veterinarian might elect to take a look at the stomach with an endoscope. “Sometimes, I go down there with a scope because I think they have bowel disease or chronic inflammation, and I say, ‘Oh! Look, there’s a ball down here!’” Dr. Diehl says.

One outcome you really hope to avoid is an intestinal obstruction, where the sock lodges somewhere in the intestines, causing a blockage. An obstruction is serious and it requires surgery to remove the item. The tricky thing about intestinal obstructions is you might not realize your dog has one if you didn’t actually witness him swallowing a sock or something he shouldn’t.

What to do if your dog swallowed a sock

If you’re lucky enough to know that your dog ate a sock or other item, one option is to bring him directly to the veterinarian to see if the item can be removed from the stomach with an endoscope. This is an especially good option if your dog is small and the item is large.

“One thing about socks in the stomach is they’re really easy to pull out with an endoscope,” Dr. Diehl explains. “It’s going to cost you some, but it’s less expensive than a surgery. Once they get in the intestine, it’s a problem because you can’t get a scope down that far and then they can swell from the gastric and intestinal juices and they can get stuck.” Your regular vet might be able to remove a sock with an endoscope, but if not, he or she can refer you to a specialist who does endoscopy.

According to Dr. Diehl, if a dog ate a sock, many dogs, especially large dogs, will either throw up socks or pass them in their stool. If your dog is not acting sick and isn’t throwing up, one option is to wait and see if it comes out on its own. If you don’t see the object come out in a few days, or if your dog starts acting sick, it’s time to see the vet.

A dog eating or play tug of war with a sock.
Not sure if your dog ate a sock — or something else? Photography ©CreativaImages | Thinkstock.

Did your dog swallow a sock … or another object?  

If you’re not sure whether your dog ate a sock or another inappropriate item, but you notice telltale signs of an obstruction, go to the vet to have him checked out. “If your dog starts vomiting profusely, especially if he’s not eating or drinking, and he just keeps vomiting and vomiting, that’s often a classic sign of obstruction and that’s definitely a medical emergency,” Dr. Diehl explains. “Additionally, if your dog isn’t typically a barfer, but starts vomiting several times a week, it could be because something is stuck in the stomach.

If your dog swallows a sharp object, a battery or a very large object, see the vet immediately, as these types of objects may cause serious problems. And if your dog swallows underwear, take him in to try to remove it with an endoscope before it gets to the intestine, where the elastic band can cause problems.

“Really be careful about leaving socks and underwear out,” Dr. Diehl cautions. “It’s almost like a habit with some dogs. It’s much more common in young dogs because they’re often sampling stuff and eating things they shouldn’t. A lot of dogs will grow out of that habit, but some dogs persist.”

This piece was originally published in 2017. 

Featured photo: gollykim/Getty Images

Read Next: Why Is My Dog Groaning When He Lies Down? 

46 thoughts on “Your Dog Ate a Sock. Is It Dangerous? What to Do Next”

  1. My 4 month Great Dane puppy swallowed a huge hunting sock, gulped it down when we tried to grab it. Called the emergency vet who said we could try to make him vomit with 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide, or bring him in. Sock was so big, I was afraid he would choke. At the vet, they gave him a shot, he vomited and then was fine. We once had an Airedale who nearly died from swallowing a shredded towel, so I wasn’t taking any chances

  2. This site is a VET recommend site! Every post has a general response of; “recommend seeing a vet”. Why read this site? It’s obviously a vet sponsored site. Laughable. People come here for ‘other than vet’ solutions. Your site is a vet supported propaganda site. Thanks for nothing.

  3. Pingback: Your Dog Ate a Sock — What to Do Next – SkyLinePets

  4. Pingback: Your Dog Ate a Sock — What to Do Next – PETS

  5. my 48 lb. dog ate the lower half the back of my shirt 4 weeks ago.i induced her to volmit using hydrogen peroxide which I thought it all came up. yesterday I had her spayed and she volmited a few more pieces up while under anesthesia. she did not show signs these were still in her. should I be concerned if she is acting normal?

  6. Pingback: Your Dog Ate a Sock. Is It Dangerous? What to Do Next – bj5petshop

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  9. Pingback: Your Dog Ate a Sock. Is It Dangerous? What to Do Next • Wustoo

  10. My black lab almost a year old ate a baby sock, he was fine for a day then he was very sick.(throwing up, wouldn’t poop.) So we took him to the vet and couldn’t afford to do an x-ray so he gave our dog a shot and some can medical dog food. We woke up this morning to very dark liquid poop and it has some fibers in it almost like cotton. And he is eating drinking playing. But tonight he seems very faint…is it because he couldn’t eat for a few days? He was also running around playing all day? Should I be worried still? Or do you think that’s normal?

  11. My dog ate part of my dress, felt good for awhile, now he eats and drinks good, but poop only small amount of liquid stool. Little unhappy too. Just small pies came out with poop. Can I give him laxative or mineral oil to digest?

  12. Pingback: Your Dog Ate a Sock. Is It Dangerous? What to Do Next – Pet Dedicated

  13. I was informed once that if an item comes out the other end and is hanging it is best not to pull it out because it may be attached to an organ, it best to bring the dog to the vet.

  14. Just warnings here. I have a 10 yr old Doberman who has insisted on faithfully eating so many of my short socks that I routinely have a technicolor lawn of dog poops. I have counted as many as 8-10 socks per week, about one for every other meal that week. They’re all MINE, not my husband’s, and I have no idea where she’s getting them all. Twice she has managed to get them stuck in the lower bowel, resulting in two very expensive surgeries, and after the last one, a stark warning from my vet, “we CAN’T do this AGAIN.” That last one, a year ago, cost us well over $3000. That followed a $1500 surgery for a broken abscess on her face. Have a pet, but be aware and prepared, mentally AND financially, for dog shenanigans, dog-proof your home, and get pet insurance. It’ll be cheaper and you’ll have less to worry about.

    1. You’re a hugely irresponsible owner. Your dog eats 10 socks a week and you don’t know how that happens? Unbelievable. You should never be allowed to own a dog again.

  15. My 10-month-old puppy ate a piece of a sock…
    he’s not acting different or anything. should I be the overprotective dad or?!

    1. Hi Rod,

      Thanks for reaching out! Yes, we suggest taking your dog to a vet. Please follow the steps outlined in this article.

    2. Vets are price gauging clowns

      No. Only take her if she’s acting sick. Most dogs will throw it up or poop it out. The admin on this website wants you to go to the vet because it makes them money. It’s gonna cost you $500 for something that isn’t serious.

  16. Pingback: How to Make a Dog Vomit – Dog Training and Tips

  17. My 5 month puppy ate his vomit it had a washcloth then he pooped there was a washcloth in it is it possible that it was the same one

  18. Laura Westerfield

    Our dog is 11 years old and has been eating socks and small rags and hair scrunchies since she was a pup. She has always either pooped them out or thrown them up eventually. We do make sure that she doesn’t have access to that stuff but when someone visits or when we visit someone it’s inevitable that eventually she will eat something. We are actually in a waiting game now with her. We have been visiting family for the last week. She is eating and drinking like normal but she keeps wretching and so we know something is trying to come up.. With her advanced age I worry when this happens now because it seems to take longer and be harder on her.. 🙁

  19. Crystal G Rodriguez

    My dog didn’t eat a sock, she tore up and ate almost an entire bath towel! Then when she ate dog food she started vomiting a really foul smelling brown liquid. Shes still drinking water but will not eat food. This is day 2 now and Im worried about her. The vet that Ive always used has closed down permanently within this last week due to health issues, so Im not familiar with anyother vet. I will be finding a new vet, however I didnt expect to need an emergency visit. Is there anything I can do for her?

    1. Please get your dog to a vet ASAP!
      Here’s more info on how to find an emergency vet:
      https://www.dogster.com/dog-health-care/when-should-you-call-an-emergency-vet-and-how-do-you-find-one

  20. my golden is 6 years old, i adopted him 1 year ago. he was found nearly starved to death in an empty apartment by the dog officers , he is back in good health and eats expensive dog food, problem is he swallows socks and mittens at least 5 /6 times and threw them up a week or two later , he also ate an entire corn on the cob and threw it up after 30 days !!!! he licks his fur non stop as if to calm himself, i take wonderful care of him but he needs constant monitering.

    1. He sounds very anxious. Talk to your vet about medications and look up ways to calm an anxious dog. Lots use CBD oil with success.

  21. My dog had a splint on his leg and I came home and he at 8 the bandage tape off of the splint and was walking fine what do I do about the stuff he consumed he is also making perfect bowel movements and it’s starting to come out let’s back side

    1. Hi Kim,

      Thanks for reaching out and we are sorry to hear this is happening to your dog. We suggest taking your dog to the vet for a professional opinion.

  22. I had no idea that my puppy ate a sock. he puked up a fully intact sock. Now he has puked his food up two more times. Should I take him to the vet?

      1. What should I do if my dog swallows a rock? Don’t worry, he didn’t actually swallow one, I’m just wondering what to do.

    1. Can you let me know what ended up happening? My dog threw up a sock yesterday afternoon and now he can even keep water down.

  23. Pingback: How to Make a Dog Vomit | Dog Traing Info

  24. I had no idea that you could use an endoscope to remove a sock if your dog has swallowed one. It is important to understand that doing some research can help you find the best way to treat your animals. I can see how anyone looking into this would also want to take the time to do some research and understand what an endoscopy can do in order to get the best results.

  25. Pingback: My Dog Has Eaten A Sock: What Shall I Do?

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